This is a series focused on TCKs who contribute to charities while also exploring the world. The first installment explored why TCKs choose these journeys. The second installment followed a group of TCKs as they began their race across Africa. This is the final installment.
It’s been just over a month since Rezhan Majid and Ryan Nishimoto of Team UhNooo set off for their 10,000 mile land journey from England to Cameroon. As participants in the Adventurist Africa Rally, their mission was to raise money for sustainable farming in Cameroon.
Team UhNooo enjoyed the adventure of a lifetime and can happily say that they walked away from their unconventional adventure unscathed. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to complete the challenge. In just over four and a half weeks they covered 6,400 miles, 2,700 miles of it on board “Clutch”, their trusty 12-year-old Peuguot 106. To her credit, she probably could have made it much further had terrorists been less active and freight shipping agencies more efficient. The rest of the 2,600 miles were by plane, 80 miles by boat and 1,000 miles by weary, rusty, unventilated buses. In all, they covered six countries (England, France, Spain, Morocco, Senegal and Mali) and raised a total of £1,303 (USD$2,056) for Send-A-Cow. Though the car didn’t make it to Cameroon for auction, they donated it to USAID in Senegal for use in daily tasks throughout the region.
Dube: How did it feel to start the trip?
Majid: There was never just one ‘start’ to the trip. There was finally getting to London after over a year of anticipation, finally busing up north to the small farming town of Todmorden to pick up our car, finally actually getting to the official Africa Rally Launch day and starting line, and even finally getting over to Africa. But each ‘start’ was a combination of a sense accomplishment and relief and always accompanied with “we did it!”
Dube: What went wrong and what did you do with your proceeds?
Majid: Three days before the official launch of the rally, all the participants got a message saying it was canceled at the request of the British foreign and security ministries due to terrorist threats and kidnappings in Mauritania and northern Mali.
At that point more than half the ralliers bailed while the rest of us frantically tried to come up with a solution. The show had to go on and about 25 cars showed up to the launch (of the 70 or so teams signed up) and we took our chances. Many of the teams decided to ship their cars on a freighter directly from England to Senegal and would spend 3 weeks waiting. We didn’t have that kind of time and had been looking forward to the journey through western Europe and over to Morocco.
In the end we did the drive and covered just under 3,000 miles with our car and shipped it from Casablanca (Morocco) to Dakar (Senegal) and caught a flight over. Unfortunately, after a crazy customs/shipping process and being told we’d have the car in Dakar in about a week, inevitably there were issues with the ship and, long story short, we would have been back home and to our real lives by the time it was due to arrive. We made good on our promise to have the car go to charity and donated it to USAID Senegal.
Dube: What did you do once you found out you couldn’t go further?
Majid: Like the ‘starts’ it felt like there were lots of times where we were told we couldn’t go any further. Documents and visas not getting done on time, rally getting canceled, thinking we didn’t have enough time or the funds to ship the car, etc. But that was really what this adventure was about. If any of us had expected it to be smooth sailing then we wouldn’t have signed up for this.
We decided to make the most of our situation and backpack/bus to Dogon Country in central Mali. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and is one of those places unlike anywhere else in the world. Imagine the Grand Canyon without the rules and with the people and villages in the cliffs and plains for 200 kilometers. It took two days on crowded, unventilated buses just to get there but it was worth it and may have been the only thing that was enough of a consolation for not making it to Cameroon.
Dube: What did you learn despite the fact that you didn’t make it to Cameroon?
Majid: If you can live with glares and honks, you really can learn stick on the fly.
Dube: What’s next for you?
Majid: Just finishing up my ‘sabbatical’ with a couple weeks in New Zealand doing some old fashioned adventuring – sea kayaking, sailing, skydiving. I’ll go back to Kuala Lumpur to jumpstart a business my dad has been working on based in both Malaysia and China.
Dube: Even though you weren’t able to make this trip, would you still try another trip like it, and if so what would you do differently?
Majid: Ryan and I have penciled in a similar challenge to be done within the next 3-4 years. …Right now the idea is a motorcycle trip from the Northwest or Canada down through South America as far as we can go. It’s really just an idea on a post-it note right now but with time I’m sure it will fester enough in our minds to become a reality. For now we just need to learn to ride motorcycles.